A Reminder that Drowning is the Silent Killer
05 Aug A Reminder that Drowning is the Silent Killer
Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning
In many child drownings, adults are nearby but have no idea the victim is dying. Here’s what to look for.
We’ve all been to the waterpark with our kids and thought that we were being vigilant. Scanning the water’s surface, and not ever taking our eyes off of our own kids to ensure that they weren’t in any distress leads us to believe that we are taking every precaution against drowning. Unfortunately, the popular myth about drowning is that it looks like a scene from a movie. We expect to see flailing, splashing, and cries for help. As this post from Slate poignantly points out, real-life drowning doesn’t look at all like the popular perception. Education about what to actually look for can be the difference between a fun day at the waterpark and tragedy.
Here is an excerpt from the post:
The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. “Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.
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